September and October 2006



In The News


Washington Harvest Plan Approved

It is one of the most sweeping agreements of its kind in the nation. A 50-year forestry plan aimed at saving Washington State's salmon runs, while shielding timber companies from lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act, was approved in June, by federal wildlife officials.

Rules require loggers to leave more trees near streams and reduce timber harvests on unstable slopes to help control runoff. In exchange, the government assures landowners they won't be required to further restrict use of their land to preserve salmon.

The plan, covering about 9.3 million acres of public and private forestland, and more than 60,000 miles of streams, is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the country.

New Mill for Murphy

In August, the Murphy Company announced that it would construct a new LVLmill in Sutherlin, Ore., on the site of its former Murphy Plywood mill. Construction is to begin immediately, according to the Roseburg News Review. And if all goes as planned, the new mill will be fully operational by the end of 2007.

Firefighters find human remains

Firefighters battling the Tripod fire near Conconully, Wash., weren't expecting to stumble upon human remains. The remains were found in the Okanogan National Forest while firefighters battled a 47,000-acre fire. The mystery seems to be somewhat solved. The remains are believed to be from a case reported to the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office back in July 2001. The case was reported as a missing person, but investigators believed foul play was involved.

Study Finds Judges Rule More Often in Favor of Forest Service

A study, released this past June in the Journal of Forestry, shows that judges have ruled in favor of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in nearly three-quarters of cases against the agency that have been presented to them.

Researchers from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the USFS found that the USFS won 73 percent of cases filed against them, in which a judge made the final determination. Of the 729 total land management cases filed against the USFS between 1989 and 2002, 61 percent of cases were won by the agency, or withdrawn by the plaintiffs.

"Given the complexity of the overlapping laws that affect forest management and the differing court interpretations of those laws, it is remarkable that the professionals in the U.S. Forest Service prevail nearly three-quarters of the time in court,” says U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Resource Committee's Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.

"This comprehensive report helps policymakers better understand the scope and outcome of the litigation that plagues our Forest Service. It sure would be nice if we could develop more collaborative approaches to forest stewardship — as we've done in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, and as we are working to do in the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act — so we can bring people together in a positive effort to improve forest management and avoid unnecessary and costly litigation," adds Walden.

Containing just under 13 percent of lands within the national forest system, Oregon and Washington experienced nearly 30 percent of all litigation filed against the USFS. More information on the SUNY report can be found at

Cutting costs of Wildfire suppression

Using the right mix of agency and contract crews is the most cost effective way to fight fires, rather than using contract or agency crews exclusively, according to Geoffrey Donovan, a research forester at the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Donovan analyzed the full cost of 33 Forest Service type II fire crews dispatched during the 2003 fire season, from five national forests in Oregon and Washington. The costs were estimated and compared with the cost of contract crews dispatched in the same region.

“My model helps managers to reduce costs by finding the optimal mix of contract and agency crews,” explains Donovan. “A comparison of the full cost of a contract and an agency crew shows that if an agency crew is provided with continuous work, then the cost of that crew is approximately 70 percent of the cost of a contract crew. However, if an agency crew is not provided with continuous work, then it quickly loses its cost advantage.”

The model so far, is applicable only to Oregon and Washington, although the methodology can be applied in other areas of the country. The entire study appears in the Western Journal of Applied Forestry and in the research publication, Ecological Modeling.

Tornado in Idaho

In June, a rare tornado hit Payette National Forest, taking out a 13-mile swath of trees. It touched down in a remote location near Bear, Ore. — population 14. Although only one injury was reported — a 12-year-old camper suffered a broken collarbone — 26.8 million board feet of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and white pine were uprooted or destroyed. Gerry Ikola, a member of the Idaho Forest Products Commission estimates the downed timber to be worth at least $9 million.

The Forest Service went to work immediately on an accelerated schedule to salvage the timber. “If all goes well, bidding could begin early fall,” said spokesman Dennis Cobb.

Roseburg Expanding

Douglas County's largest employer, Roseburg Forest Products, says it's planning a $70 million expansion of its engineered wood products plant in Riddle, Ore. The expansion is expected to add 100 new jobs.

The Roseburg News-Review reported that with the expansion, the plant's production of I-joists will jump from 80 million lineal feet to 120 million feet, and that production of laminated veneer lumber will increase to 16 million cubic feet, about double the current output.


This page was last updated on Sunday, January 28, 2007